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As an industry, we're not paying enough attention to our own work. We're skipping the ads, scrolling past them and getting annoyed by forced pre-roll. Over time, we've become less inspired by our own craft, while working in an industry that we profess to love. We create moments to celebrate our best work, yet we're not paying attention to or inspired by that work in our daily lives. Why should we expect anyone else to care?

Over time, the media landscape has become more complex which has resulted in a focus on the container and not the contents. The tech industry has complicated this for marketers by offering so many options to fuel revenue growth, driven by data. It needs to be easier for marketers to understand and learning should be less time intensive. Innovation should not equal more ad units. Together, our focus must be about what’s best for people, brands and business over the long run.

An interesting movement is happening for brands that is transforming both storytelling and brand marketing. TikTok and other entertainment media platforms are opening doors to brands that haven’t existed before. It's critical that we pay attention to what's happening now, because it's special. We want it to last.


A core human need

At the center of this movement are people, who are defining the way that they want to connect and what they expect from one another. Fueled by COVID, there’s been a desire for more inclusivity and realness. Storytelling has also expanded, from the hilarious and lighthearted, where everyone wants to join in, to the educational, important and even life changing. But these videos are just half of the story—the other half are the comments. Read these and you’ll get a sense of the depth within a community. This is particularly true on TikTok. We believe the platform fulfills a core human need to be seen, heard and understood.

Paying attention to the community gives us much to learn from as marketers—the nuances of craft, innovation through sound, creative collaboration, interesting effects. The expressions are dynamic and in constant iteration, but there's still an ease and natural flow to entertainment and engagement. These are the details that are so important to pay attention to as marketers—even more than understanding the latest trends or the high level expectations of a platform.


Being a part of the flow

TikTok recently launched our global business platform with a simple message to marketers: Don't Make Ads. Make TikToks. At surface value, this feels light, fun and inclusive—a low barrier to entry. But this isn't a formula. This isn't about simply pulling together a creator, a snappy sound, a creative effect. Overall, it’s not about the tactical output—it's about a strategy to transform how marketers can tell their story to the world.

Brands do best when they can have the same experiences, connections and engagements as an equal part of the community. Not separate, not excluded, not diverted, not different. On TikTok, everything is full-screen, sound-on video, no forced pre-roll, no GIFs, no static banners. This is meaningful to understand as a marketer, because being a part of the flow is more important than taking people away from the experience they want to have.

As the world has changed and people’s connections have evolved, brands should know they don’t have to be perfect. What's important is sincerity, a strong voice and a sense of purpose. Brands can be who they are, have more dynamic connections and tell important stories that build over time. This doesn't mean work can't have a high production value, or that exceptional craft skills don't apply on a digital platform. Clients should invest in creative resources, time and production budgets to get to the best ideas that come to life on a platform. It’s worth it—not only to meet short-term goals but also for the good of brands over the long haul.

We are still early days in building this together with the industry, fueling meaningful work and relationships for people and brands in the process. Let's stop making ads that are easily skippable and instead create content that people truly enjoy. Let's re-inspire our own creativity and interest in the craft we've dedicated our careers to doing well. Let's get this right, together.